Axcient CEO On Record-Breaking Growth: MSP Consolidation Is A ‘Big Driver’
‘Many of these partners have multiple BCDR solutions that they want to combine. We can bring a more economical solution to the table, and when MSPs are hiring technical resources they can be a lot more efficient with that investment,’ says Rod Mathews, CEO of Axcient.
Many factors contributed to Axcient’s record-breaking growth this year, but none more than the increasing MSP consolidation seen across the market.
In the first quarter, Axcient has seen 20 percent year-over-year revenue growth and a year-over-year increase of 48 percent in quarterly bookings.
The Denver-based business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) vendor has more than 3,700 MSPs and plans to attract more with additional partnerships coming later this year.
“There are things that are coming that I will be happy to talk about at the appropriate time,” Rod Mathews, CEO of Axcient, teased to CRN.
Mathews, who joined the company as CEO last fall, has doubled down on product innovations, new partnerships and a growing team.
In the first quarter, Axcient appointed Madhu Rawat as senior vice president of engineering, Rob Haggerty as vice president of technical support and Nancy Gutwein as vice president of people. Leadership also promoted Tim Sheahen to senior vice president of global sales.
New product innovations include expanded Linux support, automated backup verification, portal expansion and greater management speed.
“The company overall has been very focused on how do we execute better, how do we do a better job of serving our partners, how do we do a better job of delivering better products and better performance and all the things that are going to separate us from our competition in the market,” Mathews said.
CRN spoke to Mathews about Axcient’s record-breaking growth, how it is meeting partners where they are and what’s to come for the company for the rest of 2023.
Let's talk about the record-breaking growth in both revenue and in quarterly bookings in the first quarter. What do you contribute that growth to?
There’s a lot of things contributing to that growth. There are things that are happening in the market around MSP consolidation, which is a big driver of simplifying BCDR portfolios. Many of these partners have multiple BCDR solutions that they want to combine. Twenty-six percent of them that we surveyed back in October had more than four BCDR solutions. Eighty-seven percent have more than one, and there’s an average of three. Simplifying that down really helps focus and helps reduce cost because you don’t need as many solutions to start with. We can bring a more economical solution to the table and when MSPs are hiring technical resources they can be a lot more efficient with that investment. That’s probably the biggest driver, that kind of consolidation in the market.
Do you think Axcient’s growth could be a good indicator that there’s an even bigger need for MSP services, especially in the SMB market?
Yes. This particular use case that we’re covering with BCDR, 74 percent of those partners that are referenced say it’s extremely important to their business. That same percentage think that that BCDR revenue is going to grow in 2023. So it’s a huge part and a huge amount of wallet share for these MSPs to start with. Then when you start looking at needing to simplify and consolidate, looking for more modern solutions to some of the DR use cases in particular, all of those things contributed to things shifting our way.
What is Axcient’s plan to keep this momentum going and to fuel even bigger growth?
We are doing a few different things. We’ve reoriented a lot of our sales opportunities, particularly around our partner success team, with some of the things we’re doing in support with our new support leader. [We want] to make sure we’re listening to our partners to make sure we’re proactively looking for opportunities to help our partners be more successful. Then making sure that we were building those relationships with these MSPs as the MSP community is very relationship-driven. As we do more of that, it actually feeds itself as those MSPs now talk to other MSPs about the great experience they’re having with Axcient. We wind up growing both through additional sales to existing partners as well as bringing new partners on board.
I want to switch to product innovation, what has the feedback been like and has this been a need for MSPs?
We do a number of things to get feedback from those MSPs [such as] surveys and satisfaction feedback. We’ve improved our ability to execute in these areas and we’ve built out some more refined reporting where we can go through on a very quick basis and look at which partners are having issues. That ability to pay attention to what’s going on and be able to really see what’s going on with partners is helping us a lot.
So it’s basically real-time feedback.
The data comes in in real time and so our ability to go turn that data into information and be able to take action on it is where the rubber hits the road. That’s where we’re focused, trying to make sure we can do a better job there.
There is also some new leadership on the team. How will that leadership team help fuel the company's growth going forward?
Anytime we have new leaders coming in we get new points of view. On our engineering team we’ve had Madhu Rawat join us as our SVP of engineering. She’s already looking at better ways for us to operate, better ways for us to release products and better ways for us to make sure that our teams have the tools and processes they need to be as productive as they can be. Having a new person come in and look at some of those processes and procedures and reporting really helps get us to a new place. We’ve been really fortunate to bring in people with really great experience and deep domain knowledge that have also helped us step up our game.
Do you think a possible recession will give Axcient a headwind or a tailwind?
I think in a recessionary environment, people look for ways to save money because now you’ve got to do more with less. That really drives a lot of these partners that have multiple solutions to go figure out, ‘Hey, can I do this with one solution, not multiple, and how do I get better economics around my provider for this particular use case?’ That’s where we do really well. We bring better economics to the table, we bring more functionality to the table and we like to talk about how we deliver DR for the price of backup. This simplicity of purchase, the simplicity of being able to operate the system and then the completeness of the features, plus the savings, really helps.
What is the biggest ask you're getting from partners?
The biggest ask we’re getting are things around making it easier to do business. That’s where a lot of these improvements that we did are on our partner portal where it’s easier to navigate, it’s better performance and it’s easier to order through that portal. We put up a feature where our road map is now in that portal and partners can vote on which features or which enhancements they like the most. So that helps us triangulate what we’re doing from a prioritization perspective and engineering. We’re just trying to be easy to do business with, to listen to our partners and make sure we’re being responsive to their needs.
You came on as CEO in October, how have your goals or focuses evolved since first coming on board?
In a lot of ways I didn’t know what I didn’t know about Axcient specifically. What I found is it’s a great team of people at Axcient, we’ve got a great set of partners and we have a lot of great mechanisms to get feedback from those partners. The company overall has been very focused on how do we execute better, how do we do a better job of serving our partners, how do we do a better job of delivering better products and better performance and all the things that are going to separate us from our competition in the market.
What’s your message to MSPs today and going forward?
Today I would say listen to what other MSPs are doing with Axcient. It is a tight community. We’ve got lots of case studies and lots of examples of the successes that partners are having with our solutions. If you’re an Axcient customer partner, we want them to let us know what we can do better. If you’re not an Axcient partner, we’d love to have a conversation with you to be able to bring you on board. It’s all about what our partners are experiencing and what our partners are doing. I’m a big believer in that pragmatic marketing thinking that the answer to your question is not in the building. You have to go out and talk to people, you have to go out and meet with partners. The more partners that I meet with, the more it’s this concept of simplifying their environment, improving their productivity and allowing them to deliver a better solution to their customers. That just gets reinforced over and over and over.
What can we expect to see from Axcient for the rest of this year?
You’ll see us continue to focus on delivering innovations in our product. We’ll continue to expand our integrations with some of the leading platforms in the market and we’ll continue to expand our reach into the market. You’ll see us do more with some of the major players in the market over the rest of the year. We’re going to do everything we can to keep delivering what our partners need and doing a great job of satisfying their business requirements and their customers business requirements.
Are you saying there's possible big partnerships coming down the line? Could you tease that a little bit?
That’s about all I can tease right now. There are things that are coming that I will be happy to talk about at the appropriate time.